Here are some closing thoughts…
I really appreciated the humor and the good-natured poking that went on, but there’s always a risk when the door is opened for people to be comedians at the expense of others. There’s a proverb that speaks to the fine line we walk when we try to be funny:
Like a maniac shooting flaming arrows of death is one who deceives their neighbor and says, “I was only joking!” Proverbs 26:18-19
Unfortunately, that’s a verse I ignore pretty often. I like to joke and play and poke fun and be sarcastic in a friendly way. But, at times, my humor (or at least my attempt at it) has gone too far and hurt people. I know it’s true because they have told me. The lesson here? Just because you have thick skin, doesn’t mean others do. Innocent intentions can still do damage.
The past few days, we have poked fun at Texas driving, food, vernacular, dress, sports and a whole lot more and I only walked down this road because I trusted you guys as friends.
The very first and most important rule of mission work is to deeply and honestly respect and honor the people, customs, values, and practices of any foreign land you find yourself in. I am…and forever will be…an outsider, a transplant, a pilgrim who wandered into Texas eighteen years ago, from my homeland of California. So many things were new…different from what I was accustomed to.
But just because something is different, it doesn’t make it better…or worse.
Texas is my new home…but I will always be from California. That will never change. Nor do I want it to. I have heard many people be horribly judgmental about the people and customs of Texas. This is always wrong. My hope is that my joking or teasing will never be perceived as underhanded statements of superiority or condescension. People here…my friends here…don’t deserve that. Nobody does.
I have had some really rude things said about me and my homeland. I’ve been told to take my customs and values and ethics back to California…always with a smile…but always with a smug seriousness just underneath the chuckle. But those people are a hurtful minority that I totally discount. I’m sure my Texas friends have had to make the same kinds of decisions about those whose joking crosses the line. I’m sorry it has to be that way.
My life is better and fuller and richer because I have moved to Texas. I have met some of the finest and most genuinely good people to ever walk through my life. The differences we share have only served to broaden my perspectives and give me a deeper appreciation of the diversity that can and does exist in the world today…especially in the body of Christ.
And I would hope that people would have the same attitude and appreciation for the uniqueness and diversity found in my home state of California…if they had the privilege of sharing life with the good people there.
I don’t agree with everybody here in the Great State. I have different values and ideologies. I have different taste buds and driving habits and vocabulary and musical tastes. But agreement is not necessary for respect and trust. Only love is. So get busy loving each other!
One final instruction for Blair that I heard today at our Memorial Day picnic: Texans don’t use their turn signals when they drive. Especially when they change lanes or merge on to the highway. To me, it always feels like it’s an open invitation for the person behind you to speed up and win the race. Gary had a different take… “For Texans, using a turn signal is sign of weakness.”
Have a great week.